To Our Community-
It is with heavy hearts filled with deep sadness and anger that we address you all now. It has became public knowledge that someone we know, who we each have had varying levels of relationship with and cared for, who was also a long time and frequent customer of the cafe, has admitted to molesting a child.
We, the worker-owners of the Red & Black Cafe, recognize it as our responsibility to maintain a safer space, which, to us, means a physical place, (and social “space”) where those that occupy it may feel free of coercion and oppression, and feel empowered to speak up and take action when that isn’t the case. As a safer space, we strive to be particularly welcoming to women, children, trans people, non-binary folks, and others from communities that frequently find themselves marginalized and oppressed. We consider it our responsibility to ourselves, our customers, and our larger community to be vigilant and transparent in our maintenance of this space, and we feel this public statement is an extension of that duty.
We have decided that it is safest and the most caring action we can take for our community to not allow this person who molested a child, Tomás Bernal-Dorval, into the cafe until a time when those who his actions have most impacted as well as the broader community determine that he has fully taken responsibility for his actions and done the intensive, hard work of making sure that he is safe to be around.
**This is a link to a statement written by Tomás, outlining his abusive behavior: http://tny.cz/c95c24a7 TRIGGER WARNING: sexual assault (of a minor)***
At this point, it is crucial to point out that Tomás himself never released this statement to the general public and now no longer stands beside this initial statement (which is linked above). Instead, he drafted a second version, which, in our collective opinion, takes far less accountability and re-directs/shifts responsibility away from him (this can be found here: http://tny.cz/adfa1fbe). The second statement has even less of a focus on his actions, and nearly 3-4 times the amount of writing regarding his perceived social persecution by friends and comrades. This statement has also not been made public by Tomás, and to our best knowledge, will likely not be made so. Instead, it was released on the internal message board of the Industrial Workers of the World, the Red and Black’s union, which is how we became aware of this information.
It is important to mention that neither the Red and Black, nor any of its workers, have any role in calling out Tomás, nor are we aiming to create a process of holding accountable for his actions. In all actuality, to our knowledge, there is no formal process in place with aims to hold Tomás accountable for his actions, which would mean that (in lieu of one), he would be excluded from our space indefinitely. Our responsibility to maintaining this safer space is paramount, and until credible steps of accountability are taken by Tomás for his actions, there is no other option.
Additionally, besides our commitment to our safer space, we as cafe workers have had varying experiences with sexual violence in our own lives. Moreso, we also have experienced the pain of the effects of institutions protecting abusers and blaming, shaming, and silencing survivors. We refuse to perpetuate that aspect of our patriarchal culture, and stand beside this decision accordingly.
Please understand that this decision is not one that we take lightly, and it is a decision that impacts each of us and, to a less important degree, our business, in many ways. We are generally open to communicating with folks about our decision, although please ask individual workers if it is OK to speak to that worker at that specific time about this issue. We appreciate your understanding and respect of the collective members’ individual boundaries surrounding this issue.
We’ve made this decision with love and care for our community and ourselves in our hearts. We work towards a world without sexual violence, first by challenging the silencing of survivors and the apathy towards accountability. We care about all of you and appreciate all of the ways that each of you take care of each other and yourselves.
In Hope & Solidarity,
The Red & Black Cafe Collective